Domino’s Pizza will soon begin testing Ford’s self-driving vehicles in deliveries

Article by Christian A., on September 4, 2017

Would you like to have your pizza delivered by a self-driving car? This might seem too futuristic, but realistically, it won’t be long before customers ordering from Domino’s Pizza would get their ordered pizza from a self-driving vehicle by Ford Motor Co.

This comes as Domino's Pizza and Ford have entered into a collaboration in which they would assess and understand the role that self-driving vehicles could play in pizza delivery. According to the companies, randomly-selected Domino’s customers in Ann Arbor, Michigan, will soon receive their pizza delivery from a Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle.

Set to be implemented over the next several weeks, this collaboration project will have the Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle driven manually by a Ford safety engineer and staffed with researchers. Participating customers could track the delivery vehicle -- through GPS – via an upgraded version of Domino’s Tracker. As the self-driving vehicle nears its destination, the participating customers would receive instructions – through text messages – on how to receive their orders. Participating customers would have to unlock and open Domino’s Heatwave Compartment inside the Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle by inputting a unique code.

Through this process, researchers from both Domino’s and Ford will assess the reactions of customers to interaction with a self-driving vehicle as a part of their delivery experience. Both companies consider this research as important, as they to begin evaluating and understanding customers’ perspectives around the future of food delivery centered on self-driving vehicles.

Domino’s Heatwave Compartment pizza container was fabricated by local partner Roush Enterprises, which was also involved in the pizza company’s DXP delivery vehicle in 2015. The preliminary testing of the delivery process using the Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle -- in self-driving mode – was completed at Mcity, a simulated urban environment on the University of Michigan’s campus. The project is also being supported by the city of Ann Arbor.

According to Patrick Doyle, Domino’s president and chief executive, the company is excited in helping lead research into how self-driving vehicles could play a role in the future of pizza delivery.

Sherif Marakby, Ford vice president for Autonomous and Electric Vehicles, remarked that the carmaker is bent on increasing its understanding of the business opportunity for self-driving vehicles to support the movement of both people and goods. He added that both Ford and Domino’s have a vision for a future where a smart environment is laden with smart vehicles that could enhance people’s lives.

Ford acknowledges that research -- like the one being conducted with Dominos’s -- is needed to ensure that self-driving technology could be applied in ways that improves the customer experience. Such research is considered crucial to Ford’s plans to commence production of self-driving vehicles in 2021.

Press Release

DOMINO'S AND FORD BEGIN CONSUMER RESEARCH OF PIZZA DELIVERY USING SELF-DRIVING VEHICLES

Domino's Pizza (NYSE: DPZ), the recognized world leader in pizza delivery, and Ford Motor Co. are launching an industry-first collaboration to understand the role that self-driving vehicles can play in pizza delivery.

As part of the testing, researchers from both companies will investigate customer reactions to interacting with a self-driving vehicle as a part of their delivery experience. This research is important as both companies begin to examine and understand customers’ perspectives around the future of food delivery with self-driving vehicles.

“As delivery experts, we’ve been watching the development of self-driving vehicles with great interest as we believe transportation is undergoing fundamental, dramatic change,” said Patrick Doyle, Domino’s president and CEO. “We pride ourselves on being technology leaders and are excited to help lead research into how self-driving vehicles may play a role in the future of pizza delivery. This is the first step in an ongoing process of testing that we plan to undertake with Ford.”

As Ford builds out its business enabled by self-driving vehicles, conducting research with companies, like Domino’s, will be crucial to ensuring that the technology is applied in ways that enhance the customer experience. With a plan to begin production of self-driving vehicles in 2021, Ford is taking steps to design a business to meet the needs of both partner companies and their customers.

“As we increase our understanding of the business opportunity for self-driving vehicles to support the movement of people and goods, we’re pleased to have Domino’s join us in this important part of the development process,” said Sherif Marakby, Ford vice president, Autonomous and Electric Vehicles. “As a company focused on the customer experience, Domino’s shares our vision for a future enabled by smart vehicles in a smart environment that enhance people’s lives.”

Over the next several weeks, randomly-selected Domino’s customers in Ann Arbor will have the opportunity to receive their delivery order from a Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle, which will be manually-driven by a Ford safety engineer and staffed with researchers. Customers who agree to participate will be able to track the delivery vehicle through GPS using an upgraded version of Domino’s Tracker®. They will also receive text messages as the self-driving vehicle approaches that will guide them on how to retrieve their pizza using a unique code to unlock the Domino’s Heatwave Compartment™ inside the vehicle.

“We’re interested to learn what people think about this type of delivery,” said Russell Weiner, president of Domino’s USA. “The majority of our questions are about the last 50 feet of the delivery experience. For instance, how will customers react to coming outside to get their food? We need to make sure the interface is clear and simple. We need to understand if a customer’s experience is different if the car is parked in the driveway versus next to the curb. All of our testing research is focused on our goal to someday make deliveries with self-driving vehicles as seamless and customer-friendly as possible.”

Local partner Roush Enterprises fabricated the prototype vehicle’s pizza container, Domino’s Heatwave Compartment, based on its experience working with Domino’s on the DXP® delivery vehicle in 2015. Ford and Domino’s completed preliminary testing of the delivery process using the vehicle in self-driving mode at Mcity, the simulated urban environment on the University of Michigan’s campus. The city of Ann Arbor also has been supportive of the testing process.

“I’m delighted that Ann Arbor continues to be at the forefront of autonomous-vehicle research,” said Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor. “While it’s pizza delivery today, my hope is that collaborations such as this will enable even more innovations tomorrow.”

Source: Ford

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Topics: ford, autonomous car

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